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New 'smart' nanotherapeutics can deliver drugs directly to the pancreas
Date:1/12/2012

BOSTON, January 12, 2012: A research collaboration between the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Children's Hospital Boston has developed "smart" injectable nanotherapeutics that can be programmed to selectively deliver drugs to the cells of the pancreas. Although this nanotechnology will need significant additional testing and development before being ready for clinical use, it could potentially improve treatment for Type I diabetes by increasing therapeutic efficacy and reducing side effects.

The approach was found to increase drug efficacy by 200-fold in in vitro studies based on the ability of these nanomaterials to both protect the drug from degradation and concentrate it at key target sites, such as regions of the pancreas that contain the insulin-producing cells. The dramatic increase in efficacy also means that much smaller amounts of drugs would be needed for treatment, opening the possibility of significantly reduced toxic side effects, as well as lower treatment costs.

The research was led by Wyss Institute Founding Director Donald Ingber M.D., Ph.D. and Kaustabh Ghosh, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral fellow at Children's Hospital Boston. Their findings appear in the current issue of Nano Letters. Ingber is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston, and Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Ghosh is now an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at the University of California, Riverside. Wyss Institute Postdoctoral Fellows, Umai Kanapathipillai and Netanel Korin, also contributed to the work, as did Jason McCarthy, Assistant Professor in Radiology at Harvard Medical School and an Assistant in Chemistry at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Type I diabetes, which often strikes children and young adults, is a debilitating disease in which the body's immune system pro
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Contact: Twig Mowatt
twig.mowatt@wyss.harvard.edu
617-432-1547
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
Source:Eurekalert

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